Former Heart of Midlothian centre-back Conrad Balatoni is relishing the opportunity to try make it a ‘Cup-Double’ with Edinburgh City within 8 days, as the Citizens prepare to take on Inverness Caledonian Thistle this afternoon at Ainslie Park.
The 27-year-old joined City in the summer, after being released by English side Torquay United, and has thoroughly enjoyed his time in SPFL Ladbrokes League Two so far.
“I decided in the summer it was time to take the plunge and get a career outside of football sorted for myself. I was down in England, but, I was missing my son, who is only 15 months old, and I wanted to be closer to home and enjoying my football again. I had a few offers to mull over and Edinburgh was the team I decided to go for.
When I first joined, the manager spoke about wanting to be up challenging for promotion and I am not surprised we have started the season as well as we have done. We have a great squad in place right now and we have gelled really quickly; we have been very consistent both in terms of result and performance – we are pleased with the progress we are making, considering some at the beginning of the season may have expected another year of fighting for a mid-table place or maybe even closer to the bottom.”
James McDonaugh’s men showed early promise in the BetFred Cup, by finishing third in their group, before going on a cup-run in the Irn-Bru Cup, which has saw the part-timers reach the semi-final stage.
“We have beaten some tough sides from higher leagues already this season. The BetFred Cup helped us a lot – even though we lost 4-0 and 5-0 to the full-time sides, Motherwell and Queen of the South, we took a lot from those matches and it has stood us in good stead throughout the opening quarter of the campaign.
Many people may be surprised by last weekend’s turnaround but as a group, we weren’t. We had a bad opening 15 minutes and we found ourselves 2-0 down, but, following that, I don’t remember them having any other chances and we definitely deserved to go through in the end. Penalties are always a lottery and we were fortunate enough that [Calum] Antell made a good save in the shoot-out to help us progress.”
This weekend will see another Championship club travel to the Capital, but, the ex-Partick and Falkirk defender is confident his side can replicate their cup-heroics of last weekend.
“To be honest with you, I think Inverness will see this as the toughest draw they could have got; I can’t imagine many of their players will have played at Ainslie Park and they may turn up and see it only has a small stand on one side and terracing around the other three-quarters of the park. They may find it intimidating and that may work in our benefit. We are a team who are high-flying in our own division; free-scoring and defending well for the majority of the matches we have played in so far this season. We have shown we can compete with clubs of their calibre, but, we aren’t going to take them for granted.
We know how strong their squad is and we know they will provide a difficult challenge for us. We have belief within the changing room, that we are good enough to compete and if we can take that mentality in to Sunday’s encounter, then I am sure we will stand ourselves in good stead. The fans have been amazing and I am sure they will turn out in decent numbers again for another big match: a win would really help the club out off-the-pitch, if we can get through and draw a big name in the next round, so, we will be going all out to achieve our goal of advancing to the next stage.”